This has easily been the weirdest year I’ve been alive. Living in a global pandemic has not just shifted our regular routines and status quo, it has completely destroyed them. Denny and I worked from home before the pandemic and on any sort of ranking of people impacted by the pandemic, we would both rank quite low.. Even still it is a very different world for us as well as our tea drinking has had a powerful impact. Here’s a few personal reflections on tea during this pandemic.
The Hobby Status Quo is Broken
I’ve heard of lots of people picking up different hobbies during this year. It wouldn’t be surprising if there’s a decent influx of new tea drinkers. Tea drinking can be relatively affordable and solo drinking is a compatible activity for everyone stuck at home for more hours than they were previously. The one caveat is the clogged toilet of international shipping, which now seems to have sped back up. There’s a huge turd that’s causing normal 1 week EMS shipments from China to take 3-4 months, there’s enough domestic facing vendors that should easily satisfy any newer drinker. This is cool in my opinion and while I haven’t followed closely to see a huge difference amongst the community, it is always good to have the energy of newer tea drinkers. International ship also is back to relative normal, with a few packages still stuck.
For myself, I’ve actually had less time and interest in just thinking about and spending time with tea overall this year. This is the first set of articles I’m writing this year after the pandemic began. Much of this is independent of the pandemic. My wife and I moved this year which sucked up a good chunk of time in early summer. I’ve also been drinking tea as a more serious hobby for nearly a decade, with TeaDB in year 8. With lots of videos and articles it’s inevitable that fatigue hits and I have a lot less new ideas coming to me than year 1 or 2. I do plan to write articles around once a month or so, which is a little slower than the past.
On the plus side, my tea spending and hoarding will continue the long-term trend of going downwards, both in quantity and $ spent. My big buy of the year was a few Wistaria cakes, and I suspect that will end up being the bulk of my spending on the year.
The West is Filled w/Tea Hermits but Tea has become a Social Drink for Me
I think another reason for a relative decline in interest in tea is also being more difficult to meet up and drink tea together. Gong-fu was not designed with respect to social distancing or mask wearing. We drink tea indoors unmasked and undistanced most of the time. It would not meet the recommended public health guidelines in most places in the US.
Infamously Chinese tea drinking is a solo, hermit-like activity in the western world. I’ve realized that drinking tea with others has slowly become an important part of my drinking. There’s quite a few friends I meet up with regularly for tea that I’ve acquired throughout the years. Denny and I hadn’t missed a week for episodes since 2013, and had to halt filming for several months and are still getting caught up. Denny is one of very few friends I’ve actually met up with in person indoors now and we’ve been very cautious in doing so (limiting exposure to others). I’ve sincerely missed these tea meetups and without them my interest level in talking about tea on zoom or online simply isn’t as high.
Here’s to hoping that we’ll have some more group tea sessions in a year or so! Let’s get to 2021 already.
I still drink daily and very much enjoy it, but I think I experience my greatest joys with tea and others. These memories of drinking tea almost always exceed my most memorable solo sessions.